Home » United Tribes News » Story

United Tribes News

Tribal-State Relations
‘Forgive us’ gesture from tribe helps need to heal

1 February 2013


HEALING GESTURE: N.D. State Senator Ray Holmberg, (R) Grand Forks, with Cynthia Lindquist and Roger Yankton of the Spirit Lake (Dakotah) Tribe January 10 at the State Capital in Bismarck. DENNIS J. NEUMANN<>United Tribes News

BISMARCK (UTN) – Reconciliation has been a theme in observances over the past year marking the 150th anniversary of the Dakota Conflict. Six weeks of bloodshed in 1862, involving settlers, frontier militia and tribal people, resulted in many deaths, revenge hangings of 38 Dakota warriors, and the subsequent relocation and dispersal of Dakota tribes-people out of Minnesota.

In December, tribal descendents seeking to heal from the generational trauma, endured a 16 day memorial horse ride through winter weather from Lower Brule, SD to Mankato, MN. There, a ceremony attended by 500 tribal and non-tribal people sanctified the site of the mass executions, said to be the largest in U. S. history.

A gesture of a different kind came from North Dakota’s Spirit Lake Tribe, where descendants of Dakota People live today. Acknowledging that “bad things happened on both sides,” the tribe took the step of honoring the memory of a Norwegian settler killed during the conflict. The great, great grandfather of a North Dakota lawmaker, Ray Holmberg, was attacked and killed in 1862 while out fishing.

Roger Yankton, Spirit Lake Tribal chairman, and Cynthia Lindquist, president of the tribe’s Cankdeska Cikana Community College, blanketed Holmberg in a star quilt and offered a personal gesture of ‘forgive us’ for what happened there.

“This is our effort to start that healing journey together in a new way,” said Lindquist, herself part Scandinavian. “Let’s go forward together for the future of all of our people in North Dakota.”

Although Lindquist said she had known and respected Holmberg, an educator, for many years, she did not know until recently how his family’s past was intertwined with her tribe’s history.

Although Lindquist said she had known and respected Holmberg, an educator, for many years, she did not know until recently how his family’s past was intertwined with her tribe’s history.

“I was so touched. We sometimes forget that each and every one of us has a story, that we all come from some place and we’ve survived many things,” she said.

Holmberg said he learned from older relatives that the family’s experience in the conflict, which included the abduction of a youngster, was one of horror.

“The interesting and difficult thing about healing is the sound of silence that came from those generations,” said Holmberg. “It was one of those things never spoken of. Thank you so much for your kind words and this beautiful remembrance of this time. And let the healing continue.”

The Spirit Lake gesture was “unprecedented in recent times,” said Dr. Phil Baird, United Tribes Academic VP, who conducted the program. “We need to come together, understand what happened and forgive. That’s the only way we’re going to be able to heal ourselves.”

 

Contact Us

United Tribes News
3315 University Drive
Bismarck, ND 58504

(701) 255-3285 ext. 1386
opi@uttc.edu